For children at a sensory level of development, books can take a more concrete form. Objects can be glued onto pages or tucked inside plastic baggies on each page.
Tactile books are created by adding textures, such as fur, sandpaper, foam, beads, foil, fabric, etc., to pages of a story book with hot glue. Developmentally young children and children with visual impairments benefit from this adaptation. Some examples of these types of books include:
Materials in a Pre-K SPED classroom are clearly labeled to promote the children's independence in accessing and storing materials. But we usually use pictures as labels. Objects can be used for children with visual impairments, for example, a crayon on the outside of the crayon bin and one on the shelf where the crayons go. Hot glue or Velcro can be used to fix objects in place.
But some areas/materials cannot be represented by an object, for example, "bathroom". Tactile labels are patches of texture used to represent a place/object/etc. Braille labels can be used, in consultation with a teacher of the visually impaired, to introduce Braille awareness to students who will be Braille users.
The alternate keyboard we use most in Pre-K SPED is the Intellikeys (although others are available). The Intellikeys is a touch sensitive surface that can be divided into cells. Unlike the keyboard normally attached to the computer, the IntelliKeys look and functionality is changeable by sliding in textures added to overlaydifferent overlays. By adding textures to the overlay, a child with a visual impairment is able to independently access the computer. Some commercial early childhood software programs come with their own custom printed overlays that work automatically when you load the software. Textures or Braille can be added to these also.
Tactile symbols are small objects or patches of texture that represent an object, place, or in the case of an individual schedule for a child with a visual impairment, a part of the daily routine. For example, a straw or spoon could represent lunch or a square of sand paper could represent outside time. The objects do not have to be obviously representative - a piece of felt could represent small group time. This type of schedule is best used in a booklet format so the student can carry it with him/her. Tactile symbols can be fixed to the page with hot glue.
A beeping ball is a specially designed ball with the sound generator built in. It gives a child with a visual impairment sound cues each time it moves so they can practice judging distance and direction as well as play with a peer.
Puffy paint is usually used to decorate clothing and projects. It remains raised when it dries. It can be used by the student to create an art project or it can be used by the teacher to provide tactile cues on papers and surfaces
The following materials can be added to classroom materials like playdough, shaving cream, sand, etc. to enhance the sensory experience of developmentally young children or children with a visual impairment:
Wiki Sticks are similar to pipe cleaners but they have a waxy feel. They are useful when working with children with visual impairments to create or outline shapes on paper. They can help a child "see" the picture in a storybook or give a tactile cue of the borders when coloring on paper.
A light box is a large rectangular box that emits light on one side, creating a back-lit work surface for children with visual impairments. It is useful with fine motor materials like blocks, legos, color tiles, etc.